Urgent Help Please - Should I Get Legal Advice

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Joined: Sat Jan 26, 2019 1:38 pm

Urgent Help Please - Should I Get Legal Advice

Post by km2115 » Mon Oct 07, 2019 5:35 pm

Hi all,

Both my children were taken off their mother in April 2018. I have since had my daughter returned to me but she is under a care order still. Social services are really happy with us and there have been no issues at all.

My son has needs both physical and learning needs and is currently with a carer. He has one sleep over once a week with me and his sister at our home and this is going well, again with no issues. I attend all his medical appointments, school appointments, his ALN meetings and he is currently being assessed for a Statement of Special Needs.

Social services keep saying I have to prove I can look after my daughter and son and that the children don't seem to have a tight bond. I have argued that as they are only seeing each other once a week, they are not having the time to get the bond back that they had before they were taken off their mother. I have requested more contact time and have questioned their timetable for when my son is going to be returned to me. It was agreed at court that the plan was for my son to be returned to me after a period of rehabilitation and on a staggered basis. Social services would not commit to a timetable and keep saying it is up to my son on how he progresses on when he can come back. They also keep stressing that I have to face the fact he may never come back to me.

Social services keep saying how well he is doing with the carer and they don't want to disrupt him but he is my son, I have done nothing wrong, I wasn't with the mother at the time they were being neglected, I was living in another county and I have gone over and above what has been asked of me. I moved to where the children were living to fight for them in court, I secured a 3 bedroom home and furnished that home to a high standard, I have secured part time work to provide for my children and I have support of extended family all within a 10 minute walk of our home. I have attended parent courses (these I arranged myself), I have agreed to family counselling, I have agreed to any other support social services think appropriate and I have cooperated with all professionals fully.

The social worker started my parent assessment today ( I must stress I have already passed one parent assessment in 2018) but they want to do another to assess if my son can be returned to me but what really worried me was the first thing she said was " if you fail this it may be 2 years before we can look at maybe you having your son back. We might be able to look at shared care with the current carer). I am really concerned that this is what they have in mind and no matter how I do in the assessment, this is the path social services want to take. My questions are:

1. Should I seek legal advice and would I be able to have legal aid if I had to fight the assessment in court.

2. If I have done everything and more, there have been no issues when my son has had his sleep overs or when I have taken him to his medical appointments and they have no concerns about my parenting with my daughter, can social services try to say I cant have my son back.

3. Can I ask for a Independent assessment if social services say my son is not able to come back to me.

I am desperate as I believe the outcome is already decided before I even start. Any advice and help would be really appreciated

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Suzie, FRG Adviser
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Joined: Mon Jul 04, 2011 2:57 pm

Re: Urgent Help Please - Should I Get Legal Advice

Post by Suzie, FRG Adviser » Fri Oct 11, 2019 4:15 pm

Dear km2115,

Welcome to the Parent’s Forum. I can see that both your children are still subject to care orders due to the neglect they suffered when they were living with their mother.

Your daughter is back living with you and your son visits every week for a sleep over. You go to all your son’s medical and educational appointments but he remains living with his carer.

The plan at court was for him to be rehabilitated home to you. However, the social worker has suggested this may not happen as your daughter and son do not have a tight bond and you would have to show you can look after both.
I can see that you have also attended courses and have signed up for family therapy.

The social worker is now assessing you. Here is information about assessments.
As you can see from the link, assessments also involves identifying support that you need. So I am not sure where she gets the 2 year timescale. If she provides the support you might be assessed to need, then she should re- assess after that time. Does the social worker have expertise in your sons needs?

You need to ask her in writing exactly what you need to show/do /prove to enable your son to return home to you. Ask her to point out specifically where she thinks you could improve and whether there is any support you should be doing.
Remind her that you are happy to go on courses. Is she suggesting that you are focussing too much on your daughter and not your son (because that might be easier as she is already living with you?) Is she getting the opportunity to just see you and your son together without your daughter there? What help can she offer to your son and daughter to bond.
Historically, why is there difficulties between your son and daughter? Was your daughter a carer for your son when they lived with mum and she is worried about falling back into this role? Were those issues explored? Family Therapy may help.

Can your family help in any way? Has there been a family group conference to look for support within your family to help you?

You are right to request more contact to enable you to concentrate more on your son. Could you have one to one time with your son and a family member step in to help your daughter?
Ask how long the assessment will take.

You ask:
About seeking advice from a solicitor. Yes you should discuss the delay in the court timetable with your solicitor. If the assessment of you is negative, you could seek advice about asking for an independent social worker and the chances of successfully discharging the care orders. Legal aid is not automatic in these circumstances. You would have to pass the legal aid means and merits test. Your solicitor could carry out the legal aid assessment.
You ask whether they could stop your son coming home. At the moment they have a care order which gives them legal parental responsibility which they share with you. But they can also overrule you. So yes, while they have a care order they could stop your son returning home to you.
If you did not agree, you could seek legal advice about discharging the care order.

Yes you could ask for an independent assessment if the social worker went against returning your son to you.
I hope this outline helps.
If you have any questions please post again.
Best wishes,

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